University of Virginia
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Course Descriptions

Program in Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics

UVa Health System
P.O. Box 800736
Charlottesville, VA 22908-0736
(434) 924-5108 Fax: (434) 982-1616

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are required to complete an approved program of courses selected from the following:

BIMS 812

Cell Biology

BIMS 811

Molecular Biology

PHY 704

General Physiology

BIMS 503


PHY 506

Experimental Approaches in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

PHY 862


PHY 852

Vascular Biology

PHY 813

Structure and Function of Biological Membranes

PHY 801/802

Physiology Seminar


Advanced Graduate Courses


Lab Rotations



BIMS 710

Research Ethics

An accelerated Ph.D. program for candidates with an M.D. degree is also offered.

Note: Emphasis is placed on flexibility in the program. All programs are tailored to the needs and desires of the individual student.

Course Descriptions


PHY 506 - (4) (Y)
Experimental Approaches in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics
Prerequisite: BIOC 503, or equivalent.
Introduces various aspects of molecular biophysics, including structural biology, quantitative studies of molecular interactions, microscopy, electrophysiology, and a number of spectroscopic approaches (UV/vis, FTIR, Fluorescence, NMR, EPR). Discusses techniques and results. Students are required to present two or three original research papers on the various topics.

PHY 704 - (8) (Y)
General Physiology
Studies selected topics in cellular physiology, including the physiology of the human cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, and endocrine systems. Emphasizes the cellular mechanisms involved in the functions of the various organ systems, the roles of the organ systems in homeostasis, and the control of the organ systems by neural and hormonal mechanisms. Lectures, discussions, and clinical correlations.

PHY 801, 802, 803, 434 - (2) (S)
Seminar in Physiology
Topics of current interest in physiology and related sciences are presented and discussed.

Note: The following advanced courses will be offered as required.

PHY 810/BIOP 802 - (3) (Y)
Macromolecular Structure Determination
MSD treats the theory of X-ray scattering and focuses on the application of X-ray diffraction to macromolecular crystallography. Related topics such as low angle scattering, electron diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and determinants of protein structure are included to provide a basis for interpretation of the crystallographic results.

PHY 813 - (3) (Y)
Structure and Function of Biological Membranes
A special topics course for advanced graduates that is an in-depth assessment of the structure and function of biological membranes. Includes lectures as well as directed discussions of papers from the literature. Topics include membrane and membrane protein structure, lipid protein interactions, ion channels and their regulation, and active transport and ion driven molecular motors. Emphasizes biophysical approaches in these areas with the primary literature the main source of reading. Students present a final paper that is written in the format of a grant proposal as well as an oral presentation of the proposal.

PHY 852 - (3) (E)
Vascular Biology
Prerequisite: One course in mammalian physiology and one in cell biology.
A broad interdisciplinary course considering the basis for vascular function from a physiological and pathophysiological perspective. Topics include basic microcirculatory function, smooth muscle and endothelial cell function and development, capillary exchange, inflammatory processes, leukocyte endothelial cell interactions, and the pathophysiology of atherogenesis.

PHY 862 - (2) (Y)
Selected topics in neurophysiology, emphasizing synaptic organization of the brain: how neurons convert physical stimuli into the sensations they evoke and how movement is controlled through integrative neuronal action. Explores the mechanisms of learning and memory at the neuronal and molecular levels.

PHY 892, 893 - (1-3) (S)
Directed Readings in Physiology
Readings in particular fields of physiology under supervision of the instructor.

PHY 897 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Taken before a thesis director is selected.

PHY 898 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For master’s thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

PHY 995 - (3-12) (S)
Directed research on an approved problem in physiology.

PHY 996 - (3-12) (S)
Directed research on an approved problem in physiology.

PHY 997 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

PHY 999 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research
For doctoral dissertation.

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